Sergeant Fred Barlow, Private William Barlow, Private Ralph Barlow
On March 25, 1916, Fred Barlow (centre), and two of his brothers William (left) and Ralph (right), embarked from Halifax for England with the 45th Manitoba Battalion, Winnipeg Grenadiers, aboard the S.S. Lapland.
Six Barlow brothers emigrated from Bollington, Cheshire, to Souris, Manitoba, from 1911 to 1913. In December, 1914, three brothers, William 32, Fred 27, and Ralph 22, volunteered for the Canadian Army Expeditionary Force, joining the Souris Detachment of the Manitoba 45th Overseas Battalion.
Fred, having served in the British Territorial Reserve, Macclesfield, Cheshire, rose quickly to the rank of sergeant in Canada, and upon disembarkation in England was assigned to the 11th Reserve Battalion, Caesar Camp, St. Martin's Plains, E. Shorncliffe as a non-commissioned officer instructor.
In June, 1916 -- shortly after the Battle of Mt. Sorel at the Ypres salient -- Privates William and Ralph were transferred from the 45th Battalion to the 1st Canadian Mounted Rifles encamped in the vicinity of Ypres. On 13th August, 1916, the 1st CMR War Diary notes "past 24 hours, 1 OR killed and 10 wounded."
William's war record indicates "...killed-in-action 12th August, 1916." The postcard words written by Fred note William as "Wounded on the Somme", with a correction to "killed", and Ralph as "Wounded on the Somme". Ralph's medical records report "... serious rifle grenade shrapnel wounds to both arms and chest on August 14, 1916 at Hill 60" and notes his transfer to "No 8 Staty Hospital, Wimercux" and then to Warncliffe Hospital, Sheffield August 30th.
Fred continued as an instructor with the 11th Reserve Battalion until November, 1917. His war record reports that he proceeded to France on the S.S. Ronderling for 4 days of duty on September 23, 1917, returning to England on the 27th. He then voluntarily reverted to ranks for transfer to the 78th Battalion (4th Canadian Division) serving near Lens, France, joining his unit on November 11, 1917.
By mid-December, 1917 Fred was given a "field promotion" to corporal and then returned to the rank of sergeant in February. His war record and a letter received from the Department of Veterans Affairs in August 1959, report, "L/Sgt Fred Barlow killed in action on March 24, 1918, while serving with his unit in its ordinary field operations in the vicinity of Lens, France." The 78th Battalion War Diary and Intelligence Summary for March 24, St. Emile Sector, recorded by Lieut. S.L. Honey, reads "At 3:10 this a.m. hostile enemy barrage fell on our line. It was the heaviest on the battalion on our left where infantry action was attempted. Firing was intense for fifteen minutes only. Another barrage opened at 5:10 a.m. -- this time heaviest on the right battalion. First papers with news of German offensive to hand this evening."
Fred is buried at Aix-Noulette Communal Cemetery Extension, beautifully attended by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. William's grave-site is at Railway Dugouts Burial Ground, Zillebeke, Belgium, near Ypres.
Ralph convalesced for a year in a series of hospitals in England, returned to duty as a training officer with the rank of corporal for the remainder of the war and returned to Canada for discharge at Winnipeg in February, 1919.
This account was submitted by Dr. Philip Moir, grandson of Fred Barlow, and great nephew of William and Ralph Barlow